The Standard Schnauzer Breed

Standard Schnauzer Dog Breed Information

The Standard is the oldest of the three Schnauzer breeds. German farmers and land owners kept him as a ratter, hunting dog, and watchdog, and he is still good at all of those jobs today, as well as being an entertaining companion and dignified show dog. Click Here for detailed information on the breed …

Early History

The Standard Schnauzer breed goes back to the fifteenth century. His was not the stylish life of silken pillows and a coach-and-four, but the plebian life of the trusted guard and family dog of the working class.

Schnauzer-like dogs appear in several art works of this early period. Some famous paintings and statues by the masters of the time document their existence as early as 1492. Rembrandt and Durer both included Schnauzers in their paintings, and Lucas Cranach the Elder shows one in a tapestry dated 1501.

In Mecklenburg, Germany, there is a statue dating from the fourteenth century of a hunter with a Schnauzer crouching at his feet. The Schnauzer again appears in statuary in "The Night Watchman," dated 1620, in Stuttgart, Germany.

By the eighteenth century, some Schnauzers had apparently emigrated to England, where one appears in a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792). It is certain that fifteenth and sixteenth century tradesmen used Schnauzers to protect their wagons of merchandise as they traveled from town to town. These hardy, reliable guard dogs were of a size not to take up too much space in the wagon, but were fierce enough to ward off filchers.

The word "Schnauzer" appeared in dog literature for the first time in 1842, when it was used as a synonym for Wire-haired Pinscher. The Wire-haired Pinscher was accepted as a pure, individual breed around 1850. The breed was variously designated as Rauhaar Pinscher (rough-haired terrier), Rattenfanger (rat catcher), and Schnauzer.

Fitzinger, the Viennese Zoologist (1802-1884), described the Wire-haired Pinscher as a cross between the Dog of Bologne and the Spitz. A subsequent cross of the German Black Poodle and the Gray Wolf Spitz upon the old German Pinscher stock produced the type seen in this time. He described the face as furnished with shaggy hair which is longer and almost beard-like around the muzzle and said the ears and tail are cropped.

Breed Emergence in Germany

The oldest German Kennel Club was founded in 1878. This marked the start of the German Stud Book and from this year forward, regular shows were held. At the Third German International Show in Hanover in 1879, Wire-haired Pinschers were exhibited for the first time on record. The first prize winner was named "Schnauzer". This story of the winner's name is disputed — but fable or truth, it is held by many to be true.

In 1880, the first written breed standard was published for the "Wire-haired German Pinscher, Ratter, or Rat-catcher." This standard called for an alert dog with a hard, rough coat, but little else relates to the standard of today. Rust, yellow, and brown tones were the expected colors with lighter shades patterned just as today.

By 1900 the Black and the Salt and Pepper colors were established. By this time the breed reflected handsome heads, prominent eyebrows, heavy beards, and presence which provided the breed type and elegance.

Breed Emergence in the United States

A few Standard Schnauzers entered the United States in the late 1800's, beloved pets accompanying immigrant families to the new world, or purchases of returning travelers. The breed was not imported in significant numbers until after World War I.

By 1925, the AKC had granted the first Championship to a Swiss Import. In 1925 the Wire-haired Pinscher Club of America was formed. The club held its first Specialty on February 9, 1927.

Over the years the Standard Schnauzer has changed in his outward appearance. He is larger and more sturdy, more elegant in appearance. Yet there is much that remains the same. Throughout the history of the breed, references are made to the Schnauzer's guarding characteristics, its vigilance, and its extreme reliability. A quote from the present breed standard states, "His nature combines high-spirited temperament with extreme reliability." Through these many years, the Standard Schnauzer has remained forever the same.

Today's Standard Schnauzer

Today's Standard Schnauzer is a medium-sized working breed in the schnauzer/pinscher canine family. It is not a terrier and was not developed to "go to ground." Standard Schnauzers are characterized by a robust, square, athletic build, a dense, wiry, harsh coat of black or pepper and salt, and an energetic, intelligent temperament. Standard Schnauzers are sociable, alert, affectionate, protective, and reliable in nature, with a good sense of humor. They are generally healthy, sturdy and long-lived with few hereditary illnesses. SSCA breeders check their stock for hip dysplasia, and most also screen for eye defects and other hereditary problems.

The breed is of true medium size, with males 18-20" high at the shoulder, weighing 40-45 lbs, while females are 17-19" high, weighing 35-40 pounds.

The Standard Schnauzer is not the breed for those who want a slow, placid dog, or one that can be "fed and forgotten," for they insist on being part of the family activities and develop best when treated in this manner. They are outstanding companions, known for their devotion and love of their family, and are not "one person dogs," but instead become a true family member. Standard Schnauzers are particularly good with children, being playful and tolerant. At the same time, they are alert to any intruder who might threaten their home and family.

Standards are very intelligent and can be strong-willed. Owners must be prepared to train their new puppy from the beginning. Early Kindergarten Puppy Training and later, regular obedience classes, is the best approach.

The SSCA strongly recommends that dogs not used for breeding and those with inheritable problems be spayed or neutered. This avoids accidental breedings and reduces undesirable behaviors such as "marking," as well as possible diseases of the reproductive system. Neutered animals can compete in all AKC events except conformation shows.

Many Standard Schnauzers participate in conformation and performance events (obedience, agility) where their trainability, alertness, and enthusiasm serve them well. One growing area of interest among Standard owners is herding, for which most Standard Schnauzers show real talent. A number of Standards now serve as Therapy Dogs, as Service Dogs for the physically-challenged, Search-and Rescue Dogs or as drug or bomb-detection dogs.

Black Standard Schnauzers

If you're interested in development of star black Standard Schnauzers in America, you'll want to read a very interesting story by Helen Boynton on the subject. Here's a link to the Black Schnauzers Story.


Here's another story posted by Helen Boynton, this one from 1953, about a very special pepper and salt champion, Am. Can. Champion Winalesby Vaaben. This link will take you to Facebook, so after you click it, log in to your account and enjoy The Story of Vaaben.